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ONE TWISTED SISTER: Musician Dee Snider flashes the devil's horns to the crowd at Monster Circus, a rock mecca in Vegas. Click Arts&Life or a link to story. / Photo by Ben Hansen, special contributor

Today's word on journalism

May 8, 2009

The Last WORD

The Fat Lady Sings, Off-Key, Drools

At about this time every year, like the swallows to Capistrano or the buzzards to Hinckley, Ohio, the WORD migrates to its summer musing grounds at the sanitarium —St. Mumbles Home for the Terminally Verbose.

The reason is clear, and never moreso than as this season —the WORD's 13th —peters out.

It's been a fraught year of high palaver and eye-popping transition, both good and not-so-much. An interminable presidential campaign saga finally did end, and in extraordinary and historic fashion. Meanwhile, the bottom and everything that's below the bottom fell out of the economy, with families, homes, entire industries and —of particular interest to WORDsters and the civic-minded —dozens of daily newspapers ("I don't so much mind that newspapers are dying--it's watching them commit suicide that pisses me off." --Molly Ivins). . . all evaporating. What replaces them, from the individual to the institutional to the societal? Are we looking at a future of in-depth Tweeting?

As any newsperson or firehorse knows, it's hard to turn your back on day-to-day catastrophe --we just have to look at the car wreck. But even the most deranged and driven need a rest. As philosopher Lilly Tomlin once observed, "No matter how cynical you become, it's never enough to keep up."

So this morning, as a near-frost hovered over northern Utah, the unmarked van pulled into the driveway and the gentle, soft-spoken men in the white coats rolled the WORD out of bed and into a straitjacket for the usual summer trip to St. Mumbles, where the blathering one will be assigned a hammock and fed soothing, healthy foods --like tapioca, dog biscuits and salmon --while recharging the essential muscles of cynicism, outrage, sarcasm, social engagement and high-mindedness, in preparation for the next edition.
Summer well, friends.

Speak up! Comment on the WORD at


Feedback and suggestions--printable and otherwise--always welcome. "There are no false opinions."

Kalai to perform as part of USU students' class project during service week

By Nate Laursen

April 9, 2009 | National touring singer and songwriter Kalai will be the headlining a benefit concert for the Mali Rising Foundation in the Taggart Student Center ballroom on Thursday as the culmination of a USU class group project.

Kalai's performance, recently featured on Jimmy Kimmel Live and Inside Edition, will be part of an effort to raise money to build schools in Mali Africa. The event has been organized by a group of eight students as part of an assignment for Dr. Daniel Holland's class entitled, "Managing Organizations and People," better known to students as MHR 3110.

The class requires students to work as a group to organize an event with the purpose of raising money for a charitable organization. "For the class we are required to do a group project," said David Brown, a USU student majoring in Accounting, "and we are working with the Service Center and using Pakt House Productions to bring in Kalai. An amount of the proceeds is going to the Mali Rising Foundation to build schools for the little kids in Mali, Africa."

The concert is part of USU's annual Service Week put on by the Val R. Christensen Service Center. The week consists of several events and service projects hosted by numerous groups and organizations in an effort to encourage students to be service-minded.

David Knighton, the newly elected Service Vice President for ASUSU, said the Service Center is working closely with a student group known as Aggies for Africa to raise enough money to build a school in Mali. Knighton said anything that earns money this week is going towards the Mali Rising Foundation.

According to the foundation's website the current focus is to build middle schools in the rural areas of Mali, West Africa, for children who do not have access to schools in their villages, and they accomplish this objective by working collaboratively with community members and village elders.

Knighton said the goal and purpose of Service Week is to inform students and the community about the kinds of service that are currently going on and of the opportunities of becoming involved. "The service center does a lot." Knighton said, "We want encourage students to join clubs and get involved in service."

Knighton said the concert is a great opportunity for students to get involved. "Two dollars from each ticket will be going to Mali Rising," Knighton said, "and a raffle is being held and things will be given away. It is going to be off the hook!"

Kysha Smith, one of the students in the group that organized the concert, said they chose Kalai because his style of music appeals to college students and he is a good performer. "He is big," Smith said, "but he will still come play at a benefit concert like this."

Smith, a junior majoring in interior design with an emphasis in sales and marketing, said the group chose to work with the Service Center and felt a concert was an effective way to earn money. Pakt House Productions was brought on by the group to produce the show and bring the talent.

"We felt the best way to be most effective was a concert," Smith said, "Concerts attract a lot of people, and we felt it was the best way to raise money for the foundation."

Smith and Brown both said the class and the project has been a great learning experience. Smith said the class has taught her and her group leadership skills and how to be an effective manager. "We have learned that things donít always work the way you think," Said Smith, "and when they donít you have to rethink the organization and coordination of things." Smith said coordinating the different organizations has been a challenge with differing schedules but they have been able to adapt their original plans and make the concert happen.

"At first I was just taking the class because it was required," Brown said, "but it is a really good class. It has given me the desire to start my own business more than any other business class I have taken. It makes me want to work for myself."

Smith said the number one reason students and others should get involved is because it is a USU organization that is trying to raise the money. "It would be really cool for USU to build a school in West Africa," she said.

Tickets for the concert are $8 in advance and $12 at the door and can be purchased online at or in the basement of the TSC near the bookstore. Doors open at 6pm and snow and ski apparel will be given away sponsors Remember Delaware and Cafe Sabor. Utah singer/songwriter Dillon Brough will be opening for Kalai.

For more information about the Mali Rising Foundation or Service Week contact the Val R. Christensen Service Center at 435-797-7378.



Copyright 1997-2009 Utah State University Department of Journalism & Communication, Logan UT 84322, (435) 797-3292
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